Student Entry - Emerging Talent Awards
Project info


An online dictionary defines the word stereotype as “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” One would think that as the world’s myriad cultures have mingled and intermixed in modern times, the stereotypes people hold about one another would fall to the wayside. But the reality seems to be that stereotypes are more prevalent than ever.

As I see it, the fixed, oversimplified images that constitute stereotypes are often no longer “widely held.” They are sometimes held by relatively small ethnic, racial, religious, and other social groups—groups that often isolate themselves from the mainstream—and are applied to many other, often similarly small and isolated groups. And, sadly, they are often used to reinforce unjustified suspicions and even hostile attitudes that those groups may have about each other.

In part because I come from a country that is culturally and racially homogenous, I chose to use my photography to explore the very idea of a stereotype, which has, of course, a heavily visual component. I wanted to take the idea to its logical extreme, basing my photographic representations of stereotypes on an actual visual “average”—perhaps a truer way to define the word stereotype than common assumptions would allow. And I wanted to take as scientific an approach to this as circumstances would permit.

I started by searching the Internet for images of specific types of people—CEO, plumber, cowboy and so forth—and collected and saved as many as 100 of each. I narrowed this group down to about 20 based on their most obvious visual similarities and characteristics. Then, after carefully resizing and aligning those images for a consistent head-and-shoulders portrait cropping, I blended them together digitally. My ultimate purpose in producing these completely homogenized images is to show the meaninglessness and inaccuracy of stereotypes